Mental Health Awareness Month

May is Mental Health Awareness Month and I personally couldn't be happier about it. During this month I get a chance to talk about an issue that touches many yet still carries so much shame for most. While I love talking about it, I actually take issue with the phrase, "mental health" because I truly feel it has been given such a negative connotation. I encourage clients to not focus on mental health but yet focus on their level of self-love and mental wellness.

I am not one of these coaches who talks about something that I myself have not experienced. I have certainly had my days where I did not love myself well causing me to feel horrible. In the early 2000s, I was on several psychotropic medications, I had been diagnosed with depression, and bipolar disorder with schizophrenic features. So, I thought for a while that I was absolutely "crazy". In all honesty, I felt "crazy". And why wouldn't I think I was "crazy"? Society has done such a wonderful job of labeling what "crazy" looked like and for all intents and purposes I, at that time, fit the bill. I was engaging in self-injurious behaviors, I was highly paranoid, and I spoke to people and saw things that weren't there. This is in fact exactly what the media and the rest of society would categorize as "crazy".'s what was really going on. I now understand that I had a couple of things going on. The first thing that I was dealing with was I was not living in my truth. I have known that I was attracted to the same sex since early childhood. However, because I knew that living this life would not be accepted by many, therefore, I suppressed who I was. This was dangerous because now looking back, I can acknowledge that I was suppressing many aspects of myself including my emotions, thoughts, and feelings about my life. I believe that a lot of my mental issues were simply the real Lori trying to escape. I further believe that I needed to have something drastic happen externally to bring my attention to what was happening within. This external irritant coupled with feelings of worthlessness, guilt, and deep shame, made me a ticking time bomb.

At age six, my baby sister passed away from crib death commonly known as Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS). I recall clear as day talking to her at my bedroom window after she passed. My mother would walk past my bedroom door and ask who I was talking to? I would respond, "Mommy I'm talking to Jennifer". I would then be scolded for my behavior and be told something like, "We don't do that. It's demonic". I had no real understanding of what her words meant at the time but the tone in her voice sent the message loud and clear that this behavior would not be tolerated in our home. This was my earliest memory of being my ability to connect with the other side. Yet, it was also my earliest recollection that being who I naturally am, would not be accepted. This caused a lot of pain and internal conflict that I had to fight through which manifested as "mental illness". I now understand that what I was told was schizophrenia was my suppressed spiritual gifts coming to the surface. I now share these gifts daily with the clients I am called to.

I had to begin to have the courage to be myself across the board. Period. I was sinking into the world of western medicine as I made my attempt to now address these "mental health" issues I was being told I had. This approach just simply did not feel that this route was the best for me and I instinctively knew something was missing. Mustering the courage to be myself may sound easy but it is harder than it sounds. When you are stained with guilt and shame, (for me this stemmed from sexual trauma), the anticipation of ridicule and fear of abandonment can be enough to make this seemingly easy task feel impossible. I had no choice but to get all the way into me, into loving myself fully. Every day I had to remind myself that I had the god-given right to be who I was divinely created to be. This thought made me ultimately feel powerful and restored my "normal". Likewise, daily affirmations reminded me of who I was, which proved to be vital in this process. My true voice had to be louder than that of the media and society that said I was "crazy".

As I incorporated these tools into my life, I began to witness that the "mental health" issues that were previously taking control of my life began to dissipate. I really couldn't believe it. I began to feel impowered and like I was the alchemist of my life. I also began to study my spiritual gifts in order to understand what I was experiencing and how to use the gifts effectively to help others. The more I understood this, the more confident I became within myself. The greater my confidence, the better I was able to feel.

I am not at all saying that this will be the case for everyone that has a mentla health diagnosis. Nor am I saying that the mental health industry doesn't have it's place. It has proven to be beneficial to so many lives helping them to heal. However, I am grateful that my story ended up this way. I am grateful that I had enough courage to listen to my intuition and allow it to guide me towards what felt more authentic to my healing journey. Let's keep this conversation going about mental health and self-love beyond the month of may for the simple fact that we deal with this issue year round. If you feel you need some extra help this mont, feel free to reach out to me.